by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4 July 25, 2010 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(008)Thesis:In order for "faith" to stand in the face of the pressures of contradiction, the "believer" must understand God's use of intermediate agents so that the "faith" rests in God but recognizes His desire to communicate "Life" to others.
Introduction:Thus far in our studies we have considered the implications of motivation, representation, and the distance "Truth" maintains from humanity in terms of its essential content. When self-seeking is removed from motivation, representation has a chance to be legitimate, and when the content of that representation is divorced from the wisdom of men and human instrumentality, man has a chance to understand reality. At stake in this entire scenario is man's participation in "Life" or "Death".
This evening we are going to consider a question that automatically arises as soon as these four issues come together: "Life", the roots of the content of Truth, the process of Truth's movement into the hearts and minds of men, and the motivation of the agents of the process. That question is this: why does God not dispense with all of the complications and simply do what He wishes? If "motivation" is such a problem, why get into the use of those whose motives can destroy so much? If "representation" complicates things so badly that men can easily be misled, why use a representative? If the flaws of humanity threaten the ability of men to embrace the Truth, why tie faith to things human?
I. The Answer Begins (and, Actually, Ends) With "God".
A. All through the Bible, "God" is presented as using intermediate agents while insisting that men trust Him.
1. Hebrews 1:1-2 begins by acknowledging God's use of intermediate agents.
2. Revelation 1:1 and 11 clearly stack up a series of intermediate agents.
3. Acts 14:11 and 15, however, declare that to misunderstand this reality is a terrible "vanity" that leads to destruction.
B. When we look a bit closer, we find that "God" is presented as an essential user of "agents".
1. Hebrews 1:1-2 declares that "God" spoke by means of His Son.
2. Hebrews 3:1-2 goes even further and calls that Son "an appointed apostle".
3. Since the New Testament goes on record as elevating Jesus of Nazareth, the "Son of God", to the status of "God" (for examples, see Jhn 1:1; Jhn 5:18; and Philippians 2:6), what we have is a direct declaration that the employment of "agents" by God (for the purpose of doing the works He seeks to accomplish) is essential "T"heology.
C. When we ponder God's use of agents as essential to His nature, we are ultimately drawn to the question of what it is about God that makes the use of agents root-necessary.
1. As with all things "T"heological, there is, for man, an enormous fog-bank wherein only a few things appear with clarity and even those things often only appear briefly.
2. The following items show up with some clarity...
a. The issue of "God", for man, is the issue of His use of power.
1) The use of power, however, brings other issues into play.
a) The use of power assumes "objectives".
b) The concept of "objectives" is the concept of "Love".
c) The concept of "Love" is presented in the Bible as both ultimate and intermediate.
d) The complexity of intermediate objectives that lead to a final objective brings both omniscience and wisdom into the picture.
2) The use of power, having summoned complexity, is only resolved for man when certain bottom-line facts gain clarity.
a) Man is not, and never will be, sufficiently intelligent to "understand God".
b) But man can grasp the bottom-line facts about God.
c) Therefore, the Bible occasionally declares certain of its facts as "bottomline" (Romans 8:28; 1Jhn 2:25; etc.).
d) Paul, in harmony with this principle of bringing bottom-line things to the table, introduced the issues of the letter to the Galatians as fundamental: motivation, agency, distance from "humanity" coupled to immediacy to Jesus Christ and God as Father, and demonstrated power (resurrection).
b. The issue of "man", for God, is the issue of how to get man to the End.
1) This raises the question of "the End" and its answer as given in 1John 2:25.
2) This also raises the question of "means", the answer to which is the entirety of divine revelation.
3) The question of "means", however, assumes a great deal of complication in that man is ignorant, obtuse, and hateful.
3. However, it is the fact that "Life" for man consists of the fulfillment of his identity in each of the three areas of his being that gives sense to God's use of agency.
a. "Life" cannot be ultimately possessed without a satisfaction of man's needs as presented by the record of his creation.
b. One of those needs is the need to be an active doer of significant deeds.
1) Man cannot "live" as long as his activities amount to nothing.
2) Thus, God summons men to activities that endure forever.
3) But activities that endure forever have to have the active participation of God in them and if God is unwilling to use agents, there will be no such participation or significance.
4) This means that God is "root-committed" to the use of agents because it is only by that means that men can "live".
a) Since God is at root "Life-committed" and men are the objects of His efforts, He is, of necessity, also "agency-committed".
b) The process is not without risk -- Life and Death are real issues -- but it is fundamental.